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Blackhorn Powder
Rifle Magazine
October - November 1999
Volume 34, Number 5
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 201
On the cover...
This issue is only available on CD-ROM.The Custom Colt Single Action from Peacemaker Specialists. Purchase the CD-ROM here
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Product Tests
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Rifle Magazine
Product Tests

Nosler Trophy-Grade 9.3mm Spitzers

Old notions, like well-worn hunting boots, are hard to discard sometimes. When John Nosler’s Partition bullets first started showing up in my neck of the woods years ago, they quickly developed a reputation as real elk killers. No matter what the caliber, put one of those slugs reasonably close to a vital area and it was meat in the pot! They were a tad expensive for us in those days, but everybody realized they were handmade so there were no serious gripes about their price. Besides, when the only shot offered was a crack at the south end of a northbound bull, we had learned that Noslers could out-penetrate anything but a full-jacketed roundnose.

The bullets of other makers usually grouped a bit tighter than most Noslers in those days. There wasn’t a great deal of difference between them, but 1 ½ inches, benchrest, at 100 yards was about the best that could be expected of Noslers. Not quite good enough for benchresters, maybe, but more than accurate enough for big game.

That was then; this is now.

Since they first hit the market a few years back, Nosler Ballistic Tips have earned a reputation for delivering match-grade accuracy in most rifles. It has also been stated that Partition bullets are more accurate than ever. Boy - what an understatement! If my experience with the firm’s 9.3mm softpoints is typical, competitors might begin showing up on the line with Nosler Partitions in their magazines.

Nosler’s new 286-grain 9.3mm (.366-inch) spitzers delivered tighter five-shot groups at 100 yards, from the bench, than I have ever recorded with any receiver-sighted rifle in my life! It’s also worth noting there are some darned accurate rifles in my rack equipped with peep sights, but none have ever recorded a series of five-shot strings, all of which grouped well under 2 inches at the 100-yard mark.

Normally, 2-inch groups are the best I can expect from a receiver-sighted rifle firing match-grade loads - if I do my part. Groups spanning 2 ½ inches are acceptable. If they’re larger than that, there’s something wrong with me, the ammunition, the rifle - or all of the above. Occasionally, luck will intervene and a string might measure a shade less than 2 inches, but such groups are rare and never repeated at the same bench session. That’s why the 9.3’s performance was so startling.

Two loads were worked up for the Nosler tests: 62.0 grains of IMR-4350 and 56.5 grains of Accurate Arms’ new XMR-4064. Remington Large Rifle primers were seated in all cases. Norma hulls were used.

Fifteen feet from the muzzle of the old Mauser’s 22-inch barrel, velocities averaged 2,204 fps for the 4350 load and 2,190 fps for the XMR-4064 load.

Critics will point out those bullets could have, should have, been driven 100 fps faster. That’s probably true. Under ordinary circumstances, they probably would have been boosted somewhat, but those 4064 groups caught me by surprise and caused a change of plans.

The very first string measured 1 ¾ inches. I thought it was a fluke, an accident. When the remaining strings all clustered under 2 inches, I wasn’t so sure. All I knew was that the iron-sighted Mauser had never grouped like that before, so it was back to the loading bench to make up more XMR-4064 loads.

The next range outing saw rifle and loads repeat their performance. Five-shot strings ranged from a low of 1.3 inches (just one group) to 1 ¾ inches. None exceeded that. By the time the last string convinced me luck wasn’t involved, the Nosler box was just about empty. That’s why factory-equivalent velocities weren’t attempted.

Before any of the bullets were loaded, 10 were weighed and their lengths measured. Weights ranged from 285.02 to 285.11 grains on the Lyman scales. Lengths stretched from 1.370 to 1.375 inches. Tolerances like that add up to quality control in capital letters and do much to explain the big bullets’ inherent accuracy.

Presuming these 9.3mm slugs are representative of the quality Nosler is building into its famous Partition line these days, it appears their accuracy potential is only limited by the rifles they are fired from - and shooter ability. –Al Miller

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